Before I continue my story, I have to address an issue I’ve been contemplating for over a year. I’m in the process of writing a book on fallen pastors and have already written an essay on my experience. The essay won’t bring me any income. The book has the possibility of bringing me some, if any.
I started my blog anonymously with the hopes of clearing my thoughts and wanting to help others. At some point, I hoped to write a book. That’s come to fruition.
I found myself asking before I even started writing, “What if I my speaking/book writing ever put me in a place where I profited off my story?”
If it did, I could see where people would view me as someone who would be making money off adultery. If I was standing on the outside looking in, I would be saying, “The only reason you are profiting (whether financially, with fame, or spiritually) now is because you’ve committed adultery. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
I’ll be honest. It was a struggle. So, I value your input.
Let me tell you where I am right now and hopefully it’ll give you some insight.
I told my ex-wife a couple of weeks ago everything about my current project. She was encouraging and happy for me that I was helping others. My current pastor knows. I’ve done nothing but be as transparent as possible. I’ve dropped my pseudonym.
About a year and a half ago, I wasn’t ready to proceed with this project. I was proud. I would have been doing it for my own selfish reasons. To get revenge and make my case. But a funny thing happened. God humbled me. He basically said, “Ray, you’re a vile sinner. If you want forgiveness from others, you have to humble yourself in the sight of others. You’re the one who sinned.”
I have a feeling if our local architect, plumber, or gas pumper wrote a book on fallen people, we wouldn’t care. But I’m writing on me. A fallen pastor. And other fallen pastors. Those in ministry who were supposed to hold high the standard of morality. And we failed you. We failed those within the body of Christ miserably. And it hurt. It will resonate for decades.
Forgiveness for those with high expectations placed upon them does not come easy, if ever. And I finally get it. I am ashamed.
I’m not in this to make money, whether anyone believes it or not. My core reason for writing to begin with is to help people. To help fallen ministers. To help hurt churches. Ever since I sinned, I have felt remorse, guilt, and pain for those I hurt. Every time I blog or write, it all comes flooding back to me. I don’t say that to create pity, I just state it as fact.
The real situation is this – the vast majority of people I have hurt have moved on. David says in Psalm 51 that his sin is ever before him. When he committed adultery, I doubt there was ever a day that went by that he didn’t grieve over the sin he committed before God. After talking to many fallen pastors across this country, I can tell you that they think of it daily. I do too. I think the former wives of fallen pastors think of it daily too. I think the women they committed adultery with think of it daily too. However, the churches eventually heal, they grieve, and they move on. They don’t think of it every day. They just move on. They may not be healthy, but they cast it aside.
Writing is a wonderful thing. It is the bridge that carries the emotions from the soul to the world, allowing us to heal. Writing allows us to open our hearts. In doing so, we can help others with their hurts, letting them know they are not alone. My blog has already done that – by the grace of God. I have made so many friends who hurt like I do.
If I was writing as a man who was still committing adultery, I would think that people would have a justified right if I made a single penny on my writings. They should come to my home and in a loving manner ask me why I kept money made from sin.
I will be accused for the rest of my life (if I ever make money for my sin) for profiting on adultery. Let me tell you about my profit.
But here I am. A former pastor. Because of my sin, I have lost a lot. I don’t say that to gain your pity. I made a choice. A choice I live with every day I wake up. I do not see my children every day. Each time I see a former church member who was hurt by my actions, I will watch them avoid me or cast about in anger. Every day I drive by my former church and feel a pang of guilt for what I did. The last two years have been the darkest of my life because of a choice I made.
Am I happy to be with my wife? Do I love her with all my heart? Absolutely. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.
But I will live with the consequences of my sin forever. There is no joy in breaking the law of God. It is an offense to Him.
I write not as an adulterer. I write as a forgiven sinner. I do not write as a man seeking to earn money. I write as a man trying to help others prevent sin.
If someone was a former drug addict and found the redeeming grace of God, if someone was a former thief and discovered grace, if someone was a murderer and turned to Christ – if any of these people wrote a book and shared their testimony, most of us would revel in their story. But if a fallen pastor writes about his fall, his adultery, how he broke the heart of his church, his ex-wife, his children, we find a story of hypocrisy.
I am a hypocrite of the highest degree. I used to preach the commandments. I used to preach morality. The things I preached were true – not because of me but because they were God’s truth.
If I write or preach those truths now, the same is true. God’s truth is still true. Whether it comes from the mouth of a morally sound mouth of a pastor who speaks to millions or the mouth of a disgraced pastor who has fallen greatly. I know God saves because He has save me from the depths of despair.
What will I do if I ever share my story in word or book form and receive a check for it?
I’ll say, “thank you Lord. I do not deserve your grace. I do not deserve your love. And I most certainly do not deserve any good thing.”
If I was still committing adultery, I would agree I don’t deserve any compensation for sharing my testimony or writing. Now, I am no longer an adulterer. If I ever receive a single dime, then I’ll cross that road when I get there.
I’ll just have to say, “Lord, like my life, it’s yours. What would you have me do with it?”